GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Guilford County Schools had to shut down two schools on Tuesday because of HVAC issues.
“We are battling this on many fronts, but we do want our families and community to know that our students’ health is our first priority,” Guilford County Superintendent of Business and Operations Julius Monk said.
The district closed Triangle Lake Montessori School in High Point and released students after a half day at Western Guilford High School, while crews made repairs to the systems.
Some seniors at WGHS are happy they don’t have to be in the hot school building anymore but are anxious about virtual learning.
“I especially struggled during COVID when we were online, and I don’t like that way of learning,” said Cooper Allen, a senior at WGHS.
Other students say they are prepared because of online learning during COVID.
“They walked us through what we were going to do on virtual today, so I think it will be fine. It’s just going to be a little of a weird transition,” said Arisdelci Rivera Zepeda, a junior at WGHS.
The district made the call to pivot after a majority of the school building did not have cool air because of a leak in the chiller system.
“When you are dealing with HVAC systems this old and with schools this large, there is always going to be pockets where some places may be warmer than others, and what we asked our schools to do is put in those work orders, and we come out and address them as soon as possible,” Monk said.
When it comes to the actual repairs, they hired contractors because the district is down 16 workers in that department.
“I will say likely it will continue to happen. We are going to have HVAC issues with older facilities,” Monk said.
An independent study funded by the Guilford County Commission and the school board in 2019 found more than $500 million in deferred maintenance. With bond money, the district hopes to start replacing old HVAC units instead of patching them up.
“I can’t promise that a system won’t go down or that mold won’t appear, but what we can promise is that whenever we are alerted to those issues, we will remediate and get the spaces open and ready for education again,” Monk said.
They will be fixing the HVAC, doing spot checks for mold and making sure the school is safe before students return.
The plan, as of Tuesday evening, is to have students back inside WGHS by Friday. TLMS will be open on Wednesday.
We will update this story as soon as we hear plans from the district.